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“白金”“黑蓝”别争了,裙子的颜色只有一个

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爱思英语编者按:同一条裙子,有人看成蓝黑色,有人看成白金色,有人一会儿黑蓝一会儿又白金了。到底是什么颜色!?从昨天起,“蓝黑党”与“白金党”已经开火24小时了,各种视神经专家,电脑绘图大师也都跑来站队。不过憋争了,现在语言学家跳出来说:其实它们都是同一个颜色!

All the Colors in That Dress Go Back to the Same Etymological Source

“白金”“黑蓝”别争了,裙子的颜色只有一个

Last night a picture of a dress launched a thousand arguments. Is it black and blue, or white and gold? Some people are completely convinced it’s one or the other. Others experience a flip back and forth between the two perceptions, seemingly at random. Vision scientists, and computer graphics programs have weighed in on the controversy, but what, you ask (as you always should), do linguists have to say? Well, as it turns out, something important. Something that may unite us all. You see, all the colors in that dress go back to the same Proto-Indo-European root, *bhel-.

昨晚,一条裙子可是在网络上激起了千层浪。这条裙子的颜色到底是黑蓝还是白金?很多人坚信有且只有一种可能,但有些人却两套颜色随机转换(小编就是幸运的一枚)。视觉科学家、电脑绘图程序员们也都纷纷站出来答(si)疑(bi),而现在,语言学家们也有话要说了。他们的观点可是相当重要的,重要到能平息纷争,维护和平。因为,裙子上出现的所有颜色,都可追根溯底到同一个原始英欧语系词根——*bhel-。

Yes, *bhel-, which had the sense of “bright, shining” gave rise to various words for white. Blanche, blanco, and bianco in the Romance languages, belyi, bjal, and bialy in Slavic languages, blank, bleach, and pale in English.

首先,*bhel-有“光亮”“闪耀”的意思,一切用来形容“白”的词汇,都源于此意思,如罗曼斯语中的blanche、blanco、bianco;斯拉夫语中的belyi、bjal、bialy;英语中的blank、bleach、pale。

What else is bright and shining? Fire. Blaze and flame also go back to *bhel-, and what color are things have been through a blazing flame? Black. Black also goes back to *bhel-.

那么还有什么是明亮而闪耀的呢?火!形容火的词如blaze、flame也都源于*bhel-。那么万物经过燃烧的火焰之后是什么颜色?黑色嘛!所以黑色也可以说源自*bhel-。

Through the concept of brightness, *bhel- also went down various paths to emerge as blond and the Latin flavus, meaning golden yellow.

根据“光亮”的定义,*bhel-也可以衍生出代表“金黄色”的单词,如英语中的blond,拉丁语中的flavus。

And finally, blue was handed down from Old French bleu which went way back to the *bhel- of whiteness and also meant pale, wan, or bruised. If skin is pale and bruised, what color is it? Blue.

最后,“蓝色”是由古法语词bleu演变而来的,而bleu则源自于*bhel-,*bhel-既有“白”的意思,又有苍白、淤青的意思。当皮肤苍白或有瘀伤的时候是什么颜色,肯定是蓝色嘛。

So there you have it. The dress is not only an accidental exercise in the relativity of color perception, but a split mirror reflecting back to us 6000 years of language history. Black, blue? White, gold? As a matter of human cultural concept-making they are, when viewed at very long range (okay, very, very, very long range), one and the same. No need to fight about it. The dress is *bhel-.

所以你看,白、黑、金、蓝四种颜色都已集齐。这条裙子不单单是与色彩感知有关的小测试,还带我们重温了一下6000多年的语言史。黑蓝或白金?不管在人类文化概念中定义为何种颜色,但在很久很久以前,也许是在人类文明史的早期,它们都只是一种颜色。所以,大家都别争了吧,这条裙子就一种颜色——*bhel-。

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